"Downton Abbey"

"Downton Abbey"

Rating system:  (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)



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“Ad Astra” (PG-13) (3) [Sci-fi violence and bloody images, and brief strong language.] — After his well-respected, pioneering father (Tommy Lee Jones) never returned home twenty-nine years earlier while commanding the Lima Project and a spacecraft to the edge of the solar system and Earth is now threatened with extinction due to massive electrical global power surges in this engaging, thought-provoking, occasionally repetitive, highly stylized, arty, unpredictable, star-dotted (Donald Sutherland, John Oritz, Kimberly Elise, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, and LisaGay Hamilton), 124-minute sci-fi thriller dominated by amazing special effects, cinematography, and soundtrack, an emotionally-distant American astronaut (Brad Pitt) travels to the moon and Mars in an attempt to get to Neptune in search of his mentally unstable father who may have gone rogue in the far reaches of outerspace.

“Downton Abbey” (PG-13) (4) [Thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language.] — While British aristocrats Earl Crowley (Hugh Bonneville) and his countess American wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and the rest of the uppercase family (Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Rachel Cassidy, Laura Carmichael, Harry Hadden-Paton, Allen Leech, et al.) in 1927 England anticipate the arrival of the King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) at the luxurious Downton Abbey estate in the idyllic Yorkshire countryside in this superbly acted, well-written, captivating, witty, entertaining, star-studded (Imelda Staunton, Harry Hadden-Paton Tuppence Middleton, Douglas Reith, Charlie Watson, Michael Fox, and Kate Phillips), 122-minute film based on Julian Fellowes’s highly popular television series and highlighted by gorgeous cinematography, costumes, and sets, the loyal household servants (Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Lesley Nicol, Kevin Doyle, et al.) must deal with longstanding royal protocol when they are pushed aside by the snooty majesties servants (David Haig, Tom Ashley, et al.).

“Hustlers” (R) (3) [Pervasive sexual material, drug content, language, and nudity.] — An entertaining, factually inspired, risqué, well-acted, love-it-or-hate-it, intermittently slow paced, sanitized, humor-sprinkled, star-dotted (Julia Stiles, Mercedes Ruehl, Usher, Keke Palmer, Cardi B, Lizzo, and Lili Reinhart), 110-minute film based on Jessica Pressler’s 2015 “New York” magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores” dominated by two-dimensional characters in which a basically goodhearted, greenhorn, Asian stripper (Constance Wu), who takes care of her grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) in Queens, becomes financially successful after she meets a beautiful, ambitious, charismatic, shallow stripper (Jennifer Lopez) at a Manhattan strip club who teaches her the ropes and tricks of the trade but they end up drugging and stealing from their bigwig Wall Street clients (Frank Whaley, Steven Boyer, Ed Herbstman, Devin Ratray, et al.) after the 2008 market meltdown at which time the law steps in to spoil their fun.

“Rise of the Dead” (R) (1) [Violence, sexuality, nudity, and language.] [DVD only] — A preposterous, stupid, bloody, violent 2007 thriller about a crazy Bible-thumping couple (Emily Hackerman and Doug Sobon) who curse their adopted infant son (Jack Gordon) when he accidentally shoots himself and then the spirit of the dead child possesses a number of weapon-wielding people (Jamie Whitlock, Brooke Delaney, Chris Ferry, Peter Blitzer, et al.) in an attempt to murder his biological mother (Erin Wilk) who gave him up at birth.

“Shorts” (PG) (2) [Mild action and rude humor.] [DVD only] — When a bullied 11-year-old student (Jimmy Bennett) finds a rainbow-colored rock in Texas that contains magical powers in this silly, action-packed, kid-friendly, Robert Rodriguez comedy, his teenage sister (Kat Dennings), jealous kids (Jake Short, Jolie Vanier, Trevor Gagnon, Leo Howard, Rebel Rodriguez, et al.), and adults (Leslie Mann, Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, James Spader, et al.) vie for the rock to make their wishes come true.

“Taking Woodstock” (R) (3) [Graphic nudity, some sexual content, drug use, and language.] [DVD only] — When a hardworking gay artist (Demtri Martin) and interior designer in New York City learns that a rundown Catskills motel operated by his overbearing, aging parents (Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman) is at risk of foreclosure in 1969 in this factually inspired, well-acted, star-filled (Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dan Fogler, et al.) Ang Lee film, which was disappointing only for its lack of concert footage, he expands his annual, low-key music festival by cooperating with Woodstock promoters (Jonathan Groff, et al.) and encouraging his opportunistic neighbor (Eugene Levy) to rent his 600-acre dairy farm in White Lake for the famous and infamous August festival, which ended up being attended by more than 450,000 music-loving, free-spirited hippies (Paul Dano, et al.).

“The Wedding Director” (NR) (1.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A strange, arty, convoluted 2006 Italian film in which a prominent movie director (Sergio Castellitto) is hired by a Sicilian prince (Sami Frey) to videotape the nuptials of his beautiful daughter (Donatella Finocchiaro), but the filmmaking does not go as planned when he unexpectedly falls for the bride.

“When in Rome” (G) (2) [DVD only] — Picturesque sights, including the Trevi fountain, the Coliseum, and the Spanish Steps, in Rome highlight this syrupy, girl-friendly 2002 film in which two Los Angeles sisters (Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen) compete with four other summer interns (Michelango Tommaso, Ilenia Lazzarin, Archie Kao, and Valentina Mattolini) to work for the no-nonsense head (Matt Patresi) of an Italian fashion house and his comely vice president (Leslie Danon) who is dating the handsome design house owner (Julian Stone).

Wolvesbayne (NR) (1) [DVD only] — A silly, bloody, low-budget horror film about a money-hungry Los Angeles real estate developer (Jeremy London) who is befriended by an occult bookstore owner (Christy Carlson Romano) after he is infected by a werewolf, and they join vampire hunters (Rhett Giles, Taylor Roppolo, Derek Osedach, Justin Jones, Marcus Lyle Brown, et al.) to kill an evil, ambitious vampire goddess (Yancy Butler) and her blood-sucking minions (Mark Dacascos, et al.).

“X Games 3D: The Movie” (PG) (3) [Extreme sports action and accidents.] [DVD only] — An exciting, adrenaline-charged, three-dimensional documentary that interviews and follows thrill-seeking, high risk-taking X Game stars, including Shaun White, Travis Pastrana, Ricky Carmichael, Danny Way, Bob Burnquist, Kyle Loza, Jim DeChamp, Scott Murray, Tommy Clowerrs, Ronnie Renner, Jake Brown, and Brian Deegan, as they participate in extreme sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, freestyle motocross, rally car racing, and moto X step-up; primarily for X Game fans.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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